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Jellico playing back to basics football

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By Chris Cannon

            A perfect step, good hand placement, and a good snap are crucial.

            In football, it’s the little things that can make the difference between a win and a loss. For Jellico, it’s become their focus.

            Gathered around the projector screen in Roger Faulkner Field House, the Blue Devils watched last week’s scrimmage against Pickett County. Head coach Brad Lawson sat at the front of the room, pointing out those missed steps and broken assignments while praising the good he saw.

            “The small fundamentals, such as taking the proper step, all those little things get us to the bigger things,” Lawson said. “The small stuff is what we coach. Effort is one of those little things. If you have the effort, then you are there in the position to make the play.”

            Coming into the 2012 campaign, Jellico looks to turn things around. Finishing with a disappointing end to last season, those little things will prove crucial in improving the Blue Devils.

            “We’re looking to make up a lot of ground,” Lawson said. “I hope to see a lot of improvement, and definitely get some wins out. We went 0-10 last year. Any win is an improvement, but we want to see more than just one or two. We want to see a huge gain. That would be tremendous to help our program out.”

            For the seniors, it’s their last chance to improve the Jellico program. Looking at many of their improvements, the Blue Devil seniors look to leave a legacy behind.

            “We want to improve the way Jellico seasons have been,” running back Ryan Payne said. “The past few haven’t been that great, so hopefully we can build upon that and go forward.”

            Senior Austin Partin felt much the same way about his last season in the Jellico blue.

            “A winning record [is] what we’ve strived for, for a long time,” he said. “I think we’re doing alright. We can get there. We’ve done a lot better since spring practice. We’ve got a lot more people, so it’s coming up.”

            Last week, Jellico participated in three scrimmages in order to see where they stood at the beginning of the season. On Monday and Tuesday, they traveled to the Tri-cities and Hancock County before finishing up their week on Friday against Pickett County.

            “We definitely have some positives,” Lawson said. “Tri-cities, we went up there and our offense played pretty well. Defense played well and created some turnovers.”

            According to Lawson, Hancock County opened the Blue Devils’ eyes. With the scrimmage against the Indians, Jellico found they had some things to work on.

            “They showed us we’re not physical enough, and that helped us out come Friday,” Lawson said. “Pickett County came down and the kids attacked it pretty good. Defensively, we attacked it much better than offense. It’s one of those things that we have to make sure of our assignments and make sure about what we’re doing.”

            For the Blue Devils, those scrimmages are preparation for Friday night. Jellico looks to take on the Yellowjackets of Williamsburg (Ky.) High School. With the border battle brewing, Lawson feels that it’s just a prep course for their district schedule.

            “We just want to get those butterflies out and get ready for the season,” he said. “Williamsburg is a big game for us, as far as a rivalry. It’s just 10 miles up the road, Tennessee vs. Kentucky, and all that stuff. For me, I don’t really give into it. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s not in our district. The ones that matter are coming later.”

            To Lawson, the Yellowjackets will challenge his team, while giving them the chance to improve their passing offense. With a goal of focusing on the district race, Jellico feels they have a good chance with whom they’ve retained.

            “A lot of people [in our district] have lost quite a bit,” quarterback Austin Bowlin said. “We really didn’t lose that much. We lost three good people, but I think we’ve got a good chance.”